I am wary, let me rest.

We were watching TV this morning, and when I walked back into the room after combing my son’s hair, my wife said to me:  “I was never weary of soy milk before I ever tried it.”

“Wha-huh?”

“This lady on the commercial said she was weary of soy milk before she’d tried it.”

“Hah!”

Yes, it’s true, I’m married to a grammar nazi.  And it’s hell.  Actually, it’s not hell.  It’s not even heck.  It’s usually perfectly benign, even pleasant.

Except when I was working on my thesis, of course, and she made me debate every single comma, semicolon, word choice, or turn of phrase with her until I wanted to give myself a papercut with every single page until I bled to death.

My thesis advisor, beloved man though he was, also had the reputation of being the most viciously brutal editor in the department.  He’d earned his spurs as the editor of one of the field’s more respected journals.  After surviving my wife’s editing, he handed whole chapters back to me untouched as to grammar.  (Content, yes.)  She’s goooooooooood.

Anyway, the “wary/weary” thing is a sore spot to me, so I shared an anecdote.

“Did I ever tell you I lost a spelling bee because of that?”

She gave me the blank look.

“Yep.  The teacher gives the word to the kid next to me, and uses it in a sentence:  ‘We were wary after the long journey.’  The kid spells it:  W-E-A-R-Y.  Nope, sit down.  They turned to me.  ‘Weary.  We were weary after the long journey.’  I blinked, looked at them hard, figured I must have heard the girl next to me wrong, and tried again:  ‘Weary.  W-E-A-R-Y.  Weary.’  Nope, sit down.  The next kid spelled it W-A-R-Y, and yep, that’s what they wanted.”

My wife was flabbergasted.  “You’re shitting me.”

“Nope.  That’s where I grew up.  The teacher reading the sentences was an older black lady who pronounced that ‘ea’ as ‘a’ all the time anyway.  She pronounced ‘cheerful’ as ‘chairful.'”

“Oh my god.  You should have appealed it or something.”

“To who?  There were two other teachers sitting right next to her, and neither of them batted an eye.”

“Gawd.”

Yep.  Occasionally the stereotypes of the rural South are based in fact.

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4 Responses

  1. The one that always drives me nuts is “irregardless”. I correct people on that one ALL THE TIME. It’s “regardless of”, irregardless isn’t a word! Grrr. PEEVE.

    I admit, I have occasionally been guilty of that one. But I’m in recovery.

    For me, it’s “you’re/your.” I’ve hated that one with a passion ever since elementary school.

  2. Dang (cleaning up my potty mouth) either word fits into the sentence. BUT, weary fits better.

    Please never send your wife to correct my terrible grammar. I used to throw fits about poor usage and now I am an habitual offender.

    I still grit my teeth when I hear a double negative.

    Double negatives are common colloquially where I grew up, so I don’t sweat those too much. However, I have been known to purposefully triple negative myself. For emphasis. With my Southern accent knob turned to 11. “I ain’t never gon’ drink none of that beer.”

  3. Their, there and they’re are the ones that drive me insane. And too/to. People seem to think that they are interchangeable.

    Agreed. Those bug me as well. Just not quite as much as “Your such a nice person.”

    And as someone who used to work in a Library, it would always drive me nuts when I would hear people say that it was time to leave the Liberry.

    Heheh. Did you see that episode of Scrubs? Troy the parking-lot guy was using the word “Liberry” and Janitor corrected him. Then Janitor got pissed, and Troy said “Ooh, your face is all red like a strawbrerry.”

  4. I love this story…I can relate to it on a dramatic spelling bee past level, and a concern with grammar level. (I missed bungalow in the 5th grade and demitasse in the 6th grade…neither misses were due to the pronunciation issues you experienced).

    I find it very useful to have a grammar nazi spouse…though I do okay by myself, I almost always have Matt proof anything I write before I publish/send. He majored in English and worked as a technical proofreader for a while.

    My friend’s mother was an English teacher when I was a kid. She always corrected me when I ended a sentence with a preposition. I try like anything to avoid it nowadays, but sometimes the sentence sounds really strange when grammatically correct.

    Spoken English and written English are not the same for me. I write much more correctly than I talk, because when I speak in perfect King’s English I feel like I should be wearing a monocle and sipping tea with my pinky extended. It just seems stuffy, and I’m not (generally) a stuffy person.

    I think I do fairly well with the grammar in general. Take my blog, for instance. Yes, I’m sure there are some errors, but usually everything’s within shouting distance of passable. And I assure you that my wife doesn’t take the time to edit my blog entries before they go up. And by and large I’m an excellent speller.

    My story above was at the school level…you had to win your school to go to the county. I won one at the county level, finished 5th and third on a couple of other years. “Parochial” got me in the 7th grade when I finished third, and man am I still pissed about that one. (Got the ‘a’ and the ‘i’ backwards when I said it out loud.)

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